Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Making Christmas prezzies! Gardening bucket bag tutorial…

This is going to be a present for my Gran for Christmas. She does a lot of gardening, so I decided to make her a useful bucket bag with lots of pockets on the outside to carry all her gardening gubbins and a big space on the inside so she can carry a plant too.
With lots of giftiness going on, I thought you all might appreciate a tutorial so you can make one (or two) yourself.
There is a lot of room for customisation – I could see one of these made huge to hold laundry, small to display Interesting Things or tiny for cotton buds. You could make one in a loosely woven fabric, like hessian, with no lining to hold vegetables. Longer handles and a pocket on the inside would make it into a great shopping bag. The world’s your edible mollusc…

You will need:
Approximately 1/2 yard of hardwearing fabric for the outside – I used stash upholstery fabric,
The same for the lining – I used heavy cotton canvas
Bias binding or tape
Optional large press-stud
8” teaplate (for template)

Ready? Lets make our pattern!
base template
Decide how large you want your bucket to be. I used an 8” plate to draw a template for the base of the bag and cut this from newspaper.
Measure the circumference of the plate, mine was 26”, I then added 1/2” to this measurement for seam allowance.
side template
Decide how tall you want your bucket to be. Mine was 8”. Draw this out on paper.
pocket pattern piece
The pocket pattern piece is a little less straightforward. Draw a rectangle 12” long by 5” high and mark the centre divide line. Measure a point on this line 1/4” up from the base line, and another 1/4” above the top of the pocket. Draw a line from each bottom pocket corner to the new bottom central mark. Do the same at the top.
Now measure 1/2” in from each bottom corner and draw a line from here to the top corner. Cut it out and your pattern piece should look something like the picture above.
cut pieces
Now use your pattern pieces to cut the following:
1 side piece from outer fabric and one from lining
1 circular base piece from outer fabric and one from lining (add 1/4” seam allowance)
2 pocket pieces from outer fabric
I also cut 1 handle piece 2” wide and 30” long from outer fabric and one from lining fabric.
Phew! Now onto the pocket.
pin tape pocket
Iron bias binding or twill tape in half and pin to top edge of pockets.
sewn tape pocket
Sew and press.
iron pocket
Press 1/4” seam allowance to back of pocket piece and mark the centre line, top to bottom.
measure centre of pocket
Fold side piece in half and mark centre. Measure 1/4” from each side seam and mark. Measure the centre between these two points and align the pocket pieces.
centre pocket
Sew down the central line of the pocket piece.
sew bottom of pocket
Sew along the bottom of the pocket pieces, very close to the edge.
finished pocket
Move the sides of the pocket pieces so that they are parallel with the centre line, pin and sew. This should make the pockets bulge slightly at the top, but be flat at the bottom.
finished pockets
sew side seam
Pin right sides of side piece together, sew and press the seams flat.
pin bag bottom
Pin the base piece to the side piece. This is a bit tricky, and you will need a lot of pins, but persevere! The base should be slightly larger than it needs to be but don’t worry, you can trim it later.
sew bottom of bag
Slowly sew the side to the base, with the base on the bottom. You will need to stop often to make sure the side piece follows the curve of the base and to make sure the base piece doesn’t crease while you are sewing. The heavier your fabric, the easier this should be.
pin bottom
Do the same with the lining piece.
snip curves
Trim the seams and snip the curves. This takes ages but whatever you do, don’t miss this step or your seams won’t lie flat.
bag into lining
Insert the lining into the outer, right sides together with the outer inside-out.    
sew lining to bag
Sew the outer to the lining, being careful to leave a 5” gap. I insert pins the opposite direction to the others to remind me when to stop!
Now turn the whole bag the right way out through the hole you left open. It always seems like you’ve probably sewn it wrong until you’ve done it and can (usually) breath a sigh of relief!
topstitch top
Press the seam (being careful to press the seam straight for the opening you left) and topstitch around the top of the bag, as close to the edge as possible, closing the hole as you go.
pin handle
Pin the right sides of the handle together and sew the long edges and both ends. Cut this in half so you have two 15” handles. Using a knitting needle, turn the handles the right way out and press flat.
Turn in the exposed ends and topstitch. You could also use more of the bias binding or tape to cover the ends to match the pockets.
Position your handles. I chose to put them on the sides so that tall pointy things like trowels and secateurs can go in the pockets and not graze your knuckles. If you put them to the front and the back, it becomes more handbaggy. I need the bag to be strong, so I sewed the handles on really securely.
I’m annoyed with myself that I forgot to topstitch the handles (doh!) and I think it looks better if you do. If it still annoys me in week I’ll just have to take the handles off and redo it.
Look ma, I’m a model! Tyra would be saying, “what’s going on with your hand?… smile with your eyes… that back leg looks awkward… you’re forgetting to show off the product!”


  1. Awesome!! I know several gardeners who would love to have one of these under the tree.

    I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  2. Love this idea! I am thinking about whipping up a biggish one with some type of top to hold dress-up clothes for my neices and nephew. Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. That's great. I might have a go.

  4. Wow-your bag is so awesome-I've been looking for a pattern for one of these-to make to hold christmas cookies-thanks.

  5. What a lovely bag.
    Thank you for sharing the tutorial

  6. Thanks chaps! I'd love to see anything you make :)

  7. thanks for this! I made one, and it came out really nice!! (I can't post the link to the picture here, it won't let me)